Meet the dudes behind the brews…
David Hilgen (Master Brewer)
Widely regarded as the 2nd most famous person ever to graduate from Lower Merion High School and Reformatory Academy, David Hilgen is unquestionably the spiritual founder of Beat Them Brewing. Without David’s drive and passion for craft beer, and disdain and utter contempt for light pilsners, the fledgling Beat Them brewery would never have swilled its first batch of suds. But his disdain and contempt for pilsners stands in sharp contrast to his family’s penchant for, and mastery of, light ales. Sadly for Hilgen, his decision to eschew light pilsners forever cut off his claim to a tremendous family fortune. His story is told below…
The Hilgen roots trace back to the hardscrabble, Emerald Isle town of Blarney, where his forebears rose out of the peat business (“That’s a Load of S**t, Hilgen & Sons, LLC”) by brewing the highly regarded, corn-based pilsner Erin-Go-Lite. The corn was brought over from the New World by Leif Erikson on a return trip from Labrador in 1015 and was found to thrive in the Irish highlands of Cork and Donegal. The corn was painstakingly harvested only during the third week in October by Hilgen sons and daughters, so as to maintain the sweetness of the kernel by harvesting in the cool of the night. The work was extremely laborious, and the legend is told how the children would ask why their toil was so hard and their pain so great, the fathers would simply answer, “Hey, this doesn’t just happen.” The resultant corn-based brew was so refreshing and light that it was greatly prized by ale aficionados throughout the British Isles, most often called a peerless, super-cold brew. The corn-based recipe was a guarded secret for generations and was traditionally passed down from father to son as the elder’s last act on his deathbed. It was considered the sacred birthright of the Hilgen clan, one which no son dared dishonor by brewing any other ale. In fact, so valuable was the recipe that kings and queens throughout Great Britain, Christendom and the known world would alternately bribe and threaten the Hilgen clan to extract the “two sizable crown jewels” (the corn and beer recipes), as they were known within the family.
One of David’s ancestors, Cornelius “Corny” O’Hilgen, enjoying an Erin-Go-Lite.
The recipe made the clan extremely rich, and David’s very tall great- great- great-grandfather Conor Hilgen’s dying words were, “Mark my words, any of my progeny who deviates from the great recipe of corn-based brew will suffer from mental deficiency, short stature, polyorchidism, inability to hit a solid backhand and bad jokes. He will be cut off from the Hilgen fortune and will return to the sheep shit business (or maybe he’ll just be an insurance PR guy, but really, what’s the difference?).” [The intrepid traveler will find this quote inscribed on the underside of the famous Blarney Stone. Honest truth.]
Against this backdrop of foregone fame, fortune and wicked backhands, David boldly made a personal decision to a life of penury and obscurity (and middling tennis ability) by abandoning 500+ years of family legacy all in the name of craft beer. Bad decision or a principled stand? Try one of the Beat Them products and decide for yourself! Slainte!
Michael Jennison (N’er Do Well)
A founding member of the Beat Them Brewing Company, Michael’s love for all things “super cold” was most certainly inherited from his great grandparents, who were surviving members of the Donner Party. This also may explain Mike’s obsession with culinary experimentation.
Not much is known about Mike’s childhood. His earliest recollections have to do with his love of music. He often tells a story of the first time a rock show came to his town. He was unable to get a ticket to the sold out show but he remembers going down to the auditorium anyway. “I remember standing outside in the rain and hearing the muffled music coming from within. Being a “foreigner” to rock and roll music, I had never heard a guitar played like that before and I decided right then and there what I wanted to do with my life. The next day I went to the local pawn shop and bought an old acoustic six string. I had no idea how to even hold a guitar, but what I did know was it felt good in my hands. It turned out I was a natural musician and it didn’t take long to understand.
A year later, Mike was ready to start his own band. His musical tastes during that time leaned heavily towards folk music so he rounded up three college buddies who shared his passion and started a band he dubbed “The Kingston Quartet.” The group wrote their own material and it wasn’t long before they achieved cult status touring colleges and coffee houses up and down the west coast of California. The group was offered a recording contract but unaware to Mike, the other three members of the band had other plans. Accusations had been swirling around Mike since the day a member of the road crew went missing. The quartet was enduring a rough stretch and money was tight. While the rest of the band rationed food to keep from starving, Mike always seemed to be well fed. The combination of the missing roadie and Mike’s ancestral skeletons fed rumors, and the band was too close to breaking through to risk losing everything they had worked for. Mike was out. The band renamed themselves “The Kingston Trio” and proceeded to revolutionize folk music.
Mike was devastated. He tried to make a go of a solo career, and he even hooked up with Pete Best to create a short-lived jazz combo called “The Dismissed,” but the unfounded accusations continued to dog him until he was forced to give it all up. He would eventually pick up the guitar and start playing again, but that wouldn’t be for many years. For now, music (and possibly a roadie) was dead inside Mike Jennison.
Looking back Mike just shakes his head. He has since become deeply religious. “I learned first-hand that when God closes a door, he opens a window. Or in my case a much bigger door!” Reeling from his musical exile and not realizing that the path he was starting down would eventually lead him to an unimaginable promised land, Mike turned to the only thing that quieted the demons and eased his suffering…beer!
There are moments in history that are indelible. Moments that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but ended up changing the world. Henry Morton Stanley arriving on shores of Lake Tanganyika in Africa to meet up with the long lost Dr. David Livingston. A church social in post-war Liverpool, England where a schoolboy named Paul is introduced to a young ruffian named John. And a volleyball court located in a pallet factory in rural Hunterdon County, where Mike Jennison and David Hilgen discover they share a common interest…the Beat Them Brewing Company is born!
ScottyGun’r (Chief Bottling Officer)
ScottyGun’r (not pictured) performing his hit, “Cotangent Blues,” with his trio (also not pictured) at Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus in Copenhagen.
ScottyGun’r is a founding director of Beat Them Brewing Company and in charge of bottling and, to a lesser extent, capping. Born in a toboggan in Tobago (later the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago), ScottyGun’r spent his formative years on board the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald. When the ill-fated ship got ill and met its fate (which was the whole sinking thing), ScottyGun’r moved to a more stable ship, the Edmund Hillary, which remained in dry dock atop Mt. Everest until it, too, sank. But ScottyGun’r never forgot his Tobagan roots. When tobogganing became an official event at the Olympic Games in 1885, Scotty led the Tobagan Toboggan team to a bronze medal, which was a remarkable feat, because Tobago was one of only two nations competing in the event. (The other country was the small island/isthmus/desert/arctic/antarctic/tropical nation of Lumbago, which won the silver medal.)
Gun’r’s father was Welsh, coming from Gun’rstown. Gun’r attended Westminster School, then entered Christ Church, Oxford, on 25 January 1600. He graduated in 1603, but he remained at Oxford until 1615 when he received the divinity degree of BD. (“That’s what she said!”) Gun’r was ordained and in 1615 became rector of St. George’s Church in Southwark and of St. Mary Magdalen, Oxford. He held this position in the Church until his death.
Gun’r was a friend of Briggs, and would spend much time with him at Gresham College discussing mathematical topics. (Briggs later partnered with Stratton, and they made a fortune on gas-powered lawnmower engines.) When the professor of astronomy at Gresham College resigned in 1620, Gun’r was appointed to fill the vacancy, largely on the recommendation of Briggs. Gun’r published seven figure tables of logarithms of sines and tangents in 1620 in Canon Triangulorum (available at amazon.com), or Table of Artificial Sines and Tangents (see  for details). The words cosine and cotangent are due to him. (!)
He made a mechanical device, Gun’r’s scale, to multiply numbers based on the logs using a single scale and a pair of dividers. It was called the gun’r by seamen (of course!) and was an important step in the development of the slide rule. Gun’r published his description in 1624 in the cleverly titled “Description and Use of the Sector, the Crosse-staffe and other Instruments.” It is worth noting that in this work Gun’r uses the contractions sin for sine and tan for tangent in his drawing of his scale although not in the text of the book.
He also invented Gun’r’s chain, which was 22 yards long with 100 links. It was used for surveying, and the unit of area called an acre is ten square chains. Gun’r also did important work on navigation, publishing “New Projection of the Sphere” in 1623, and a sequel, “New Projection of the Sphere: The Wrath of Khan,” three months later. He also studied magnetic declination and was the first to observe the secular variation. (If you’ve not observed the SV, you don’t know what you’re missing.) Hilgen writes in :-
“In 1622, Gun’r’s investigations at Limehouse, Deptford, of the magnetic variation of the compass needle produced results differing from William Borough’s, obtained more than forty years earlier. He assumed an error in Borough’s measurements, but this was in fact the first observation of temporal change in magnetic variation, a contribution acknowledged by his successor, Henry Gellibrand, who discovered the phenomenon.”
The rest of ScottyGun’r’s story is best told in haiku:
passion for beer has never
been explained. In fact,
some say he’s a craft
beer geek wannabe. Those same
people also say
he smells. And they say
he wouldn’t know a cosine
from a “Super Co”
Sine that turned blue when
it was cold enough to drink.
In fact, those people
really don’t seem to
like ScottyGun’r very
much. We’re not sure why.
James “Call Me Cap’n” Thatch (Graphic Designer, Marketing and HR “human remains”)
James Thatch is in charge of marketing and human remains (HR) at Beat Them Brewing Co.
Born in a log cabin that he helped his father build in the wilds of Central New Jersey, young Jimmy traces his lineage back to a famous pirate, Capt. Kangaroo. Lacking friends, Jimmy gave himself the nickname “Cap’n.” (Particularly awkward for a youngster to give himself a nickname, but his friend Bruce, aka “The Boss”, convinced Jimmy that he would need a nickname if he wanted to lead a rock band and make the covers of Time and Newsweek.)
The Cap’n was an ambitious young whippersnapper. It is well known that he spent his childhood summers testing the market for hobos in Point Pleasant, N.J. It is during this time that the Cap’n also discovered his musical muse: The Captain & Tennille. To this day, Jimmy, aka “Cap’n,” can be heard humming “Muskrat Love” as he restocks the bookshelves at the local library.
The seven or eight years he spent in high school were among his most joyful, especially the three years in 10th grade. During those years, the Cap’n played a number of sports but volleyball was his passion. As the only player on the boy’s team wearing spandex (and matching headband), the Cap’n lead his team to the state finals, but they could never win the big one. Some say if only the setting had been better, they would have been unbeatable. While attending college (in New Jersey, of course), he spent several summers exporting fake artwork to the Bethesda, Md., Marriott. To this day, the Cap’n can make a flawless copy of “Dogs Playing Poker.” After “graduating” from college (or at least printing a college diploma on his home printer), the Cap’n spent the late 1980’s analyzing pogo sticks in the financial sector, then parlayed that experience into managing glucose in Edison, N.J. From 2001 through 2006, Jimmy, aka “Cap’n”, created marketing channels for puppets with no pay (similar to his role and Beat Them Brewing Company).
Still searching for his true calling, Cap’n Thatch wrote, directed and starred in his own Kung Fu movie, Snuggling Rabbit, Blathering Lemur. (See movie poster below.) Surprisingly—at least to the Cap’n—the movie did not do well outside his tri-county New Jersey area.
Similar to other executives at Beat Them Brewing Co., the Cap’n also tried his hand at haiku:
underwear and I
lost in silence in a stream
in the trees wonder
He did not fare well.
After many years wandering around New Jersey (and never leaving the Garden State for more than 8 days), the Cap’n found his true calling—toy design. To this day, his Mimi the Clinically Depressed Wooden Top is an industry classic.